Discover the fascinating & rich history of the country of Holland, also known as The Netherlands.

Michiel Adriaanszn de Ruyter
De Ruyter (24 March 1607 29 April 1676) is one of the most famous admirals in Dutch history.

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Michiel Adriaanszn de Ruyter

Holland Short Information Sheet:

The pious De Ruyter was very much loved by his sailors and soldiers; from them his most significant nickname derived: Bestevaer (older Dutch for "grandpa".) He is honored by a statue in his birthplace Vlissingen, where he stands looking over the sea.

Holland History Information Cloud:

Michiel Adriaenszn de Ruyter (24 March 1607 29 April 1676) is one of the most famous admirals in Dutch history. De Ruyter is most famous for his role in the Anglo-Dutch Wars of the 17th century. He fought the English and French in these wars and scored several major victories, the best known probably being the Raid on the Medway.

De Ruyter was born in 1607 in Flushing (Vlissingen) in the province of Zeeland as the son of beer porter Adriaen Michielszoon and Aagje Jansdochter. Little is known about De Ruyter's early life, but he probably became a sailor at the age of 11. In 1622 he fought as a musketeer in the Dutch army under Maurice of Nassau against the Spaniards during the relief of Bergen-op-Zoom. That same year he rejoined the Dutch merchant fleet and steadily worked his way up. In 1637, De Ruyter became captain of a private ship meant to hunt for raiders operating from Dunkirk who were preying on Dutch merchant shipping. He fulfilled this task until 1640. After sailing for a while as schipper (skipper) of a merchant vessel named de Vlissinge, he was contacted again by the Zeeland Admiralty to become captain of the Haze, a merchant ship turned man-of-war carrying 26 guns in a fleet under admiral Gijsels fighting the Spanish, teaming up with the Portuguese during their rebellion.

A Dutch fleet, with De Ruyter as third in command, beat back a Spanish-Dunkirker fleet in an action of Cape St Vincent 4 November 1641. After returning he bought his own ship, the Salamander, and between 1642 and 1652, he mainly traded and travelled to Morocco and the West Indies to amass wealth as a merchant. During this time his esteem grew among other Dutch captains as he would regularly free Christian slaves by redeeming them at his own expense.

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